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A report by the Women’s Satnav for Success highlights the importance of listening to and valuing women’s contribution at work.
Women are significantly more likely than men to think their contribution in the workplace is undervalued, resulting in reduced motivation to progress, according to a new report.
Listen or Lose, the Women’s Sat Nav to Success Survey 2018 report, for the first time surveys both men and women. Based on an in-depth survey of over 550 people, it shows that it is not true to say that women are less likely to speak up at work than men. Similar numbers of men and women say they speak up. However, only half of women report having their contributions consistently valued whereas men feel their contribution is always or usually valued. This contribution-to-value gap results in more than twice the number of women as men reporting a loss of engagement as a consequence of their ‘contributions and the extent to which they are valued’. This rises to almost a third of all part-time workers.
From this gap comes falling levels of job fulfilment and a greater likelihood of looking for work elsewhere as well as lower confidence and limited career horizons, says the report. It found that women in senior positions were the most fulfilled, with part-time workers the least fulfilled and just under a third reporting reduced engagement and over 14% saying that their motivation to progress decreases a lot. Flexible working was an important factor in fulfilment.
The report also points to a need for women to be given greater direction about their potential for career progression. While 83% are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses at work, half say they are not clear what career opportunities their skills could open up.
The report says women are more likely to pitch for opportunities than men, but also more likely to suffer knockbacks. Unsurprisingly, this results in lower motivation to progress. Almost 72% more men than women reported an increased in career progression motivation as a result of proactively pitching for opportunities.
Other findings include that women are significantly less likely to take part in office politics, vying for the attention of key people who can advance their career, and are less resilient than men [they are twice as likely to report reduced motivation to progress after negative events at work] because of the uneven playing field they face.
“It is not women’s resilience that needs to be built up,” states the report, “though this might help in the short term. It is the preceding strategic enablers to success that need to be addressed, starting by focusing on the first domino [the contribution-to-value gap].”
Women’s reluctance to ‘play the game’ in terms of office politics and their lack of confidence is a result of their experience of office culture and the values and behaviours endorsed by leaders, says the report. It calls for greater investment in sponsorship programmes for women, saying the survey shows two thirds of those sponsored said it increased their engagement a lot and nearly three quarters said it increased their motivation to progress a lot.
Other important barriers to women’s progress include lack of equality in the home – of the 53% of women who said they do more of the domestic work at home, 44.3% say it reduces their motivation to progress – and cultural and logistical barriers that stop women networking informally and building social capital. On the positive side, informal workplace support and personal support were very important for women’s engagement and motivation.
The report calls for women to be enabled “to speak up effectively to the right people, at the right time, in the right way, about the right content, with the right frequency” and for those in senior positions to be enabled to listen to them, to be rewarded for doing so and to provide feedback.
It says the work environment, accompanied by related micro behaviours, have a combined effect on women’s ability to progress and states that employers need to begin by ensuring women – and all employees – feel equally valued and are equally engaged. This would benefit women, but would also have a wider positive effect on the whole organisation, it states.
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